________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 12 . . . .February 8, 2008


The Princess, The Pelican and the Big Brass Band.

Arthur Hobbs. Illustrated by Donna Assié.
Flin Flon, MB: Lighthouse Publishers (397 Kingsway Blvd., R8A 0L6), 2007.
41 pp., pbk., $20.00.
ISBN 978-0-9783383-1-2.

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**½ /4




Now the kangaroo hops 'cos it's all he can do
And, if you were one, then you'd do it too.
With his short legs in front and the long ones behind,
If he started to run, he'd be out of his mind.

If he started to run (just let us suppose)
He would probably take a hard crack on the nose.
As his front legs went down, he'd go head-over-heels
With a smack on the nose and you know how that feels.

So the Kangaroo's just showing sound common sense
As he hops right over a ditch or a fence.
He'd be stupid if ever he thought of stopping
As he does it so well, he should keep right on hopping.


Harry C. Hobbs has collected 28 small poems which his father Arthur wrote for the children in his neighbourhood during the four decades he lived in Coburg, ON. In the forward to The Princess, the Pelican and the Big Brass Band, Hobbs writes about his father: "He was a born storyteller and loved writing poems for the neighbourhood kids. Frequently these children would ask him to write a poem about a pet of favourite animal and Arthur would oblige."

     Of the 28 poems in this collection, 16 feature an animal, bird or fish, or 17 if you count a teddy bear as an animal! Mr. Hobbs senior has a fine ear for rhyme, rhythm and metre. All his verses scan perfectly; a rare achievement among writers of poems for children. They are fun to read aloud and will satisfy the need of very young children for the perfect rhyme. Several poems have a gentle lesson implied. "Mister Torquil the Turtle" teaches us the danger of too much hurry, "Susan's Doll" shows us the consequences of being mean, and "Gertie the Goose" emphasizes the importance of using our gifts to enjoy life.

      Arthur Hobbs' love of children and his modesty shine through this collection of verses. His little four stanza poem, "Thanks to Lisa," plus the last work in the book, "Thanks For a Helping Hand," give a major share of the credit to youngsters for which the author was writing.

Now it's thanks to you, dear children.
You really have been grand
'Coz you're the authors of these rhymes
With just a helping hand.

internal art     It is unfortunate that the illustrations for The Princess, the Pelican and the Big Brass Band don't quite measure up to the quality of the text. In particular, the cover of the book, with its stiff and oddly dressed group of musicians representing a brass band (not even one trombone?) detracts from the its overall appeal. As well, the relative scarcity of the illustrations inside is a disappointment. There are too many pages with text only. The editor needs to take a look at other collections of poetry for young children (for instance any of Dennis Lee's) and note the appearance of an illustration for every poem, however short.

      Despite the aforementioned drawback, The Princess, the Pelican and the Big Brass Band will be provide enjoyment to teachers, parents and grandparents as they share Hobbs' poems with young listeners between five and nine-years of age.


Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in St. Norbert, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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